FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Lion Killing

Yesterday felt like the title of a book I read some years ago, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day (Mark Batterson, Author).  Just read that title and ponder each word while adding the next word and image to it.  In a pit.  Bad.  With a lion.  Worse.  On a snowy day.  Worst!  But actually, there is good news in this story from 1 Chronicles.  Paul tells us in Romans 15:4 (NASB) that “whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that…we might have hope.”  So what are the lessons from the text that gave title to Batterson’s book?

First, let’s read the Scripture.

Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.  And he struck down an Egyptian who was five cubits tall. Although the Egyptian had a spear like a weaver’s rod in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.  Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors.  He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard. 1 Chronicles 11:22-25 (NASB)

What instruction does this text, written in earlier times, have for us?  Well, let’s see.

Benaiah was the son of a Priest.  We have a personal relationship with a great High Priest – Jesus. (Hebrews 4:14)

Benaiah was a valiant fighter.  You are a fighter.  Daily, you must fight the good fight of faith! (1 Timothy 6:12)

Benaiah was from Kabzeel, a city in southern Judah. The name means “gathering of God.”  As a Christian, you are part of God’s gathering, the church.

Benaiah struck down two warriors from Moab.  The Moabites were closely related to the Israelites, but they were enemies of Israel.   There are those who are close to you, but they are your enemies.  Perhaps your closest enemy might even be you – your flesh, that is.  And you must strike down those enemies – yes, flesh included.

Benaiah went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.  Bet you’re thinking, “Hmm.  Let’s see her make a connection with this one!”  1 Peter 5:8b says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Renowned Pastor, Ray Stedman said in a sermon addressing this topic, “Benaiah slew a lion — a lion, not a leopard, not a wild hyena or a boar or a buffalo, but a lion… it is not for nothing that the lion is called the king of beasts, because it is indeed a very powerful animal.”

But I did a little research.

The “king of the jungle” doesn’t have the strongest bite.  There are many other cats and many other animals that surpass the lion for bite.  As a matter of fact, ListVerse says, the lion has the “weakest bite of the genus Pathera or big cat.”  Wow.  But the research clearly points out that the lion doesn’t need a strong bite.  This big cat is really a social animal and presents as quite cooperative during the hunt.  It is not by power of bite that the lion kills; rather, it is by strangling its prey – biting the trachea.  ListVerse says lions “lack the need of a strong bite.”

Our enemy, the Devil, prowls like a roaring lion seeking to devour.  Like a lion, he is often social.  Like a lion, he is often cooperative.  Like a lion, he doesn’t need a strong bite.  Like a lion, he often slips up on us and strangles the life out of us.

Every one of us has a lion prowling and pursuing us – that something, someone or some situation that is waiting, seeking to devour us.  It might be a loss that we just can’t seem to move beyond – the grief of it has entangled our hearts and minds and even our lives.  We may even feel as though a part of us died.  There may be a physical disease that is daily draining our bodies of strength or our minds of clarity.  Possibly your lion is a habit – a bad habit, that you know is killing you – a substance addiction, gambling, overeating, gossiping, worrying…  Your lion might be fear – of the unknown or of something very specific, but it has you paralyzed.  You know your lion.

But let’s get back to Benaiah.

Benaiah met his lion in a pit on a snowy day. Bad enough to meet a lion – anywhere.  (I once met one on an African road.  The body and windows of a little old minivan separated us.  That was not enough for me, so in a pit?  Not!)  But Benaiah met his lion in a pit.  Pits tend to be small.  They tend to be deep.  They tend to have slippery sides.  They tend to be hard to escape.  And then it was snowing!  When I first read this Scripture, my response was, “Really!”  (Not as in I doubted, but as in “Really.  Can this get any worse?”)

Have you been there yet?  In the pit with your lion?  On a snowy day?  Ray Stedman said, “He met the worst possible foe, in the worst possible place, under the worst possible circumstances.”  Now, that’s the Devil for you.  Getting you right where he wants you and setting you up for the kill.

Turn to Benaiah once more.  The Scripture says, “He…went…and killed a lion.”

Victory!!!!!

Hopefully, you are encouraged that you can face your lion. You can go down into the pit with him – even on a snowy day, and emerge victorious.

But there is one remaining question. How? How did Benaiah kill the lion? How do you kill your lion?

See you next blog entry…


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No Corns, No Pinching

Yesterday I spoke at a work-related event. It was risky, but I opened with a joke someone shared with me years ago. Risky because I’m not the best joke teller and because of the audience. But I told it anyway. It went like this:

It seems that a man, known to be a cheapskate, had gone to the tailor to have a suit made, but when the suit was finished and he went to try it on, it didn’t fit him at all.

He was greatly disappointed and complained to the tailor. It was a horrible fit.  The jacket was too big in back, the right arm was too long, one pant leg was too short and three buttons were missing!

“No problem,” said the tailor, ” this is an easy fix – just hunch your back, bend your arm, walk with a limp, and stick your fingers through the button holes and you’ll look just fine!  Nobody will ever notice.”

So the man, still upset but not wanting to upset the tailor, contorted his body to fit the suit and, even though he felt that he had been duped by the tailor, he left. He had not walked one block when he was approached by a stranger.

“Who made that amazing suit for you?” asked the stranger. “I’m in the market for a new suit myself.”

Surprised, actually shocked, but pleased at the compliment, the man directed the stranger to the tailor’s shop.

“Well, thanks very much,” said the stranger, hurrying off. “I do believe I’ll go to that tailor for my suit. He must be an absolute genius if he made a suit to fit you.”

Isn’t it astonishing how we will wear something that we KNOW does not fit?  There are many a corned toe that will attest to this.  It’s also probably why SPANX and Lipo-in-a-Box are multi-million dollar companies, and everyone else has sought to make knock-off versions of their products which make claims to “transform” your body, help you fit in a size smaller garment and look pounds thinner.

All day long we (especially us women) walk around trying to “fit” into something that simply does not “fit” us.  Remember Cinderella – all those women trying to fit a Size 10-looking foot into about a Size 5 slipper?

We try to “fit” into social groups.

We try to “fit” into workplace cliques.

We try to “fit” into love relationships.

We try to “fit” into careers.

We try to “fit” into age groups and mindsets and lifestyles.

We try to “fit” where we simply do not belong and have no place being.

Author and TED Talk speaker, Brene Brown, says, “Fitting in, I’ve discovered during the past decade of research, is assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself into a human pretzel in order to get them to let you hang out with them.

A human pretzel.  Corns. Pinching. Ouch!  Don’t we realize how painful it is trying to “fit?”

Brown goes on to say,Many of us suffer from this split between who we are and who we present to the world in order to be accepted, but we’re not letting ourselves be known, and this kind of incongruent living is soul-sucking.”

I think the split is not just between who we are and who we present to the world but rather between who we are, who we present and who our Father has designed and called us to be.  God has called us collectively as His people and He has called us individually to specific roles and responsibilities.  Trying to “fit” into roles contrary to His calling is like slapping God in the face and telling Him that He doesn’t know what He is doing. Now, there’s an ouch for you!

Examples of how He has called us as His people are found throughout the Scriptures:

  • Matthew 11:28                      We are called from labor to rest.
  • Matthew 5:14, 1Peter 2:9     We are called out of darkness into light.
  • 1 John 3:14                           We are called from death to life.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:15                We are called out of turmoil into peace.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:9                  We are called from loneliness into the fellowship of Christ.
  • Galatians 5:13                       We are called from bondage to liberty.

God also extends to us a personal invitation to a unique and special task He planned just for us as individuals. Seek to know, understand and “fit” that plan. How? First, you must have a personal relationship with His son, Jesus Christ. (Click the tab SALVATION at the top of this page if you don’t have or don’t know how to have a relationship with Jesus.) If you already have a relationship with Christ, then seek to know His plan by praying, reading His word, meditating, seeking Godly counsel and, listening.

One size fits all is a lie about pantyhose and about most other things in life including God’s calling. He has a plan just for you, and when you walk in the way that He has called, you will find it to be a perfect fit – no corns and no pinching!


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Hold the Ketchup, Please

I should have known that it was coming.

Life has been good. Real good! I retired – for the second time. I spent the summer resting. It was wonderful. I read. I cooked. I napped. I rediscovered trash TV. (Thankfully I am over that now!) But even better – I prayed. I journaled. I began this blog. Did I say I napped? Yes, it was all good!

Then my phone rang. It was a job offer. It seemed good, so I said, “Why not?”

Then an email came. The very next day. It was a job offer. It was something I thought I’d enjoy, so I said, “Sure.”

I’d forgotten that I had registered for three seminary classes, but still I wasn’t worried. I was confident that I could balance it all. And so, after about 60 days of sweet, blissful rest, I returned to the world of work and homework. My days (and nights) are busy, but they are enjoyable. The pace and culture are very different from my last season of work. I soon got caught up in setting my new calendars, meeting new people, rethinking my days and even shopping for a few new outfits because the hose and heels weren’t necessary every day. I got caught up in this new life which was such a change and such a relief from the past that I forgot.

I forgot the warnings of 1 Peter 5:8-9. I forgot to be self-controlled and alert because my enemy, the devil, prowls around seeking to devour.

But he didn’t forget, and this week he came. The prowling enemy. The devil. He sought to devour. He sought to steal my joy, to make me doubt, to make me second guess myself and my work, to thwart the success I was experiencing, to scatter obstacles in my path, to confuse my mind and to trouble my spirit.

He caught me off guard because I was having such a good time in life. He opened wide his jaws to devour me. And at the first snap of his teeth, I gave up. But thank God I quickly regained my senses and my footing. I realized that the devil may come, actually the devil will come to devour, BUT I don’t have to spread the ketchup on myself making me all the more tasty for him.

Isn’t that what we do sometimes? At the first nip we give up and give in. We surrender to him our thoughts, our sleep, our peace and our joy. Rather, we should fight against him. Take captive every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5), refuse to lose sleep understanding that our Lord never slumbers or sleeps (Psalm 121:4), hold fast to the peace that our Lord has given us (John 14:27) and guard our joy realizing that it is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Too often we have given the devil far more credit than he is due. He is NOT an all-powerful being who is the evil equivalent of God. He and God are NOT two equal forces in opposition to each other – one good and one evil, one light and one dark. Jesus Christ defeated Satan on the cross of Calvary. He us under the foot of Christ and, therefore, under out foot.  As we submit to God and intentionally resist the devil, we can enforce the victory Jesus won thereby forcing Satan to flee from us.

Hold the ketchup. Please!